Russian communists say Putin more powerful than Tsar

Other News Materials 22 September 2007 23:28 (UTC +04:00)

( Reuters ) - The leader of Russia's Communist Party accused President Vladimir Putin on Saturday of piling up vast powers and said the Kremlin's main party represented billionaires rather than ordinary people.

"He (President Vladimir Putin) has more power today than the Pharaoh of Egypt, the Tsar, and the Soviet Union's General Secretary combined," veteran Communist leader Gennady Zyuganov told a party congress on the outskirts of Moscow.

"He has four times more power than the quite powerful president of the United States," said Zyuganov, whose party is the country's number two political force with 162,000 members.

Zyuganov said his party, the successor to the all-powerful Soviet Communists, hoped to win at least a fifth of seats in elections this December for the State Duma (lower house of parliament). It currently has just over 10 percent of deputies.

The Duma is dominated by United Russia, a party patronized by Putin, which enjoys a two-thirds majority.

Zyuganov said he was the only real opponent of the Kremlin and added he was gaining new supporters as voters were getting bored with unfulfilled promises from United Russia, which he said represented the rich, with over 30 billionaires among its Duma members.

"They (United Russia) have billionaires. We have millions (of supporters) behind us," he added.

The December elections will be closely watched as a dress rehearsal for a presidential vote next March.